Sep 21, 2011; 9:13 PM ET
I had a few days off in a row (very strange for me), so I spent them relaxing and was not near a computer, so that is why I have not written a blog recently.
I did come back to work and found something pretty neat. A University of Toronto-led team of astronomers observed extreme brightness changes on a nearby brown dwarf that may indicate a storm grander than any seen yet on a planet. Because old brown dwarfs and giant planets have similar atmospheres, this finding could shed new light on weather phenomena like that known on Jupiter (the Great Red Spot is an example of some extreme weather) and storms on Saturn.
For those that do not know, brown dwarfs are somewhere in between a low mass star and a giant planet in terms of mass. They are sort of like a star that was not quite massive enough to produce nuclear fusion and give off enough energy to "burn bright" like a regular star.
Anyway, the change in brightness that they observed is indicative of rapid changes in the conditions on the surface of the brown dwarf. They are assuming that this is likely due to extreme changes in the weather on the brown dwarf named 2MASS 2139.